Social media companies targeted right-wing provocateur and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Monday, removing his content from their platforms in what they call a crackdown on “hate speech.” YouTube shut down The Alex Jones Channel, an account with nearly 2.5 million subscribers. Facebook removed four pages affiliated with Infowars, Jones’ media company, and also banned his personal page. Apple topped off the social media shutdown, scrubbing its iTunes platform of Jones’ podcasts, as well.
This might sound like good news — after all, Jones is a reprehensible commentator who peddles in conspiracy theories, ranging from the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which alleged Hillary Clinton ran a pedophilia ring out of a pizza shop, to the blatantly false idea that the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was faked.
But no matter how despicable Jones’ commentary is, we should all be dismayed to see him censored on social media. Facebook, YouTube and others are private companies, so they aren’t violating Jones’ First Amendment rights. Nonetheless, they are stifling the spirit of free speech and — perhaps most important — censorship will only make Alex Jones a martyr among his fan base.